Cats have had a special bond with humans and have been domesticated since ancient Egyptian times. In fact, they were even regarded as gods in these times and treated with the utmost care and respect. It seems that for those of us who really know cats, we understand that there is something special about these animals, so much so that we too are willing to feed them, scoop up their poop, and let them destroy our furniture… seems like perhaps not much has changed since ancient Egypt after all.
Throughout history, many people have been superstitious about black cats in particular, and will avoid them whenever they see them. If you are thinking this is just a silly superstition and people don’t actually believe that black cats are bad luck, then you should know that they are the least likely to be adopted from an animal shelter. There are stories that they are sometimes tormented, captured and even killed on halloween night.
So, where does this superstition come from? Should we be wary of black cats? If so maybe I’m screwed because I have been the proud owner of my handsome black kitty I call Salem, (I know, how original, right?) for the past 5 years. This also brings up the point of how black cats and witches seem to go hand in hand. So, why is this and what do we need to know about these furry black creatures?
First, Some History
Throughout history black cats have generally been associated with occultism. According to Hebrew and Babylonian folklore, cats are compared to serpents, coiled on the hearth. In ancient Egypt, the act of killing a cat was punishable by death, and when a cat would die it would be mummified followed by the family entering into a period of mourning. Roman cultures considered the cat to be sacred and brought this animal into Europe. The vast majority of countries in Europe consider a black cat crossing one’s path to be bad luck and the church has long since associated black cats with witchcraft. These animals were also believed to be shapeshifters and that witches were able to transform into them with their spells and do evil things without being noticed. Many people believed that the devil himself would take the form of a black cat and sadly on holy days like Easter, in the Middle Ages, black cats were often hunted down and burned.
Luckily, in some cultures the perception of the black cat began to change and it went from being seen as bad luck to good luck in countries like Scotland who still regard a strange black cat on your porch as a sign of prosperity to come. In England, fishermen’s wives would keep black cats in their homes while their husbands were away in the belief that these animals would prevent danger from occurring to their husbands while they were off at sea.
Some More Updated Theories
There is no doubt that superstitions regarding black cats are some of the most widely known and popular. One has to wonder what witches really saw in black cats and why they had a relationship with them in the first place, because by now many people realize that witches were not evil, but just more connected to the power of the universe that lies within us all. The powers that be did not want this information getting out, hence the massive crusade against witches and pretty much any intuitive woman during the middle ages. So why did the witches really keep black cats?
According to a website called Witches Lore, a black cat is a good companion to have around because it will double the power of any spell, black cats are witches themselves and are more connected to the mysterious powers of the universe. You can learn everything about magic just from talking to your cat.
Black aside, the cat represents the following attributes, according to spiritanimal.com
- Patience, waiting for the right moment to react
- Independance, yet enjoying social connections
- Spirit of adventure, courage
- Deep, relaxed connection with self
- Healing from the inside out
- Curiosity, exploration of the unknown or the unconscious
“Another way to see the meaning of the cat as a spirit animal or totem is to pay attention to its ability to see in the dark and be at ease when most other animals and humans are not. If the cat shows up in your life as a spirit guide or you have this animal as totem, you may be inclined to start exploring areas in your life or aspects or yourself that you do not know well yet.
When we observe cats, we see that they are characterized by the flexibility and agility. No matter the circumstances, it will always manage to fall back on its feet. By affinity with the cat totem, you may be encouraged to develop your flexibility at many different levels, whether it is in your physical body, mind, emotions, or spirit.
The cat totem is a source of inspiration to renew your perspective and have the courage to act or integrate it into your life. If the cat spirit animal shows up in your life, it may be time to explore new ways to look at things.”
Here’s another interesting point made by the Archives of American Art,
“It’s not all bad for the black cat though. Black cats aboard ships at sea are a longstanding tradition associated with good luck. From pirate ships to naval vessels, cats have been welcomed on board because they keep the rodents away from the ship’s food supply and provide companionship for an isolated crew. Unlike in the United States, where they typically have negative connotations, other nations—like the United Kingdom and Japan—believe that black cats can bring prosperity, bless a marriage, ensure good harvests, and even help bring success to a theater production.”
Do Cats Show Up In Your Dreams?
Of course some people perceive the presence of cats in their dreams as bad omens, others believe that the cat represents your feminine essence and sensuality. These dreams may be a reminder to let your inner mischievous and mysterious nature shine through. If a black cat shows up, this is a message to pay attention to what your intuition is telling you. The Ancient Egyptians believed that cats could travel between dimensions, so it would not be that strange to see a black cat in your dream with a message for you.
It seems as if there has been an heir of mystery and wonder around black cats since their relationships with humans began. I believe they are just as special as any other cat and my boy, Salem, just happens to be the friendliest cat I’ve ever met, he crosses my path on a regular basis and as far as I know, I’m doing just fine! Perhaps these superstitions are what you make them.